Book Review: Death of the Mantis

Here’s why I wanted to read this book:

Death of the Mantis is the best book I’ve read in a very long time. A fantastic read. Brilliant!”  — Louise Penny

Best book Louise Penny’s read? Let me have at it. And, you know what? Louise Penny was right. It’s a very good book. Death of the Mantis is considered a detective mystery but the pleasure of the book came because it’s so much more than that. First, let me tell you about the story.

 Summary from the authors’ website:

When a Kalahari ranger is found dead in a dry ravine, his corpse surrounded by three Bushmen, the local police arrest the nomads. Botswanas Detective Kubu Bengu investigates the case and is reunited with his old school friend Khumanego, a Bushman and advocate for his people. Khumanego claims the nomads are innocent and the arrests motivated by racist antagonism. The Bushmen are released, but soon after, another man is murdered in similar circumstances. Are the Bushmen to blame, or is it a copycat murder? Then there is a third murder. Again it points to the Bushmen. Kubu journeys into the depths of the Kalahari to find the truth. What he discovers will test all his powers of detection and his ability to stay alive …

There are several reasons why I really liked this book. First is the main character. Kubu, (the name means hippopotamus) is a large man in stature, in heart and in wisdom. He’s loyal to his friends and colleagues, and deeply in love with his wife and new baby. But, he’s also human. As good a detective as he is, he doesn’t notice the complete exhaustion of his wife. (Can I say “Men!” ?)

Kubu credits his early start in detective work to a schoolmate who was the son of a bushman. His friend has “drawn a circle in the scorched sand and shown Kubu that a superficial look reveals only sand and a few pebbles, bits of dried grass. But on closer inspection, some of the pebbles are, in fact, curious succulents, and what looks barren, is actually teeming with life.” That’s the kind of detective Kubu is – he is determined to look closely at all the facts in a case.

A second reason I liked this book is because of the backstory about the bushmen of the Kalahari and Botswana in general. The bushmen are a primitive band of people who don’t want to have their way of life eliminated. They remind me of the story of our American natives. Their struggles as shown in this book, have me wanting to know more about them.

The mystery itself is well developed and quite clever. I honestly didn’t figure it out until nearly the end. That’s a good thing, in my opinion. I like it when an author keeps me turning the pages and using my brain to analyze what’s really going on.

I did not know this was book number three in a series featuring Detective Kubu. It was not until I went to the authors’ website that I saw there were two previous books. (A Carrion Death and The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu)  You can be sure I’ll read those two. Obviously this book can stand alone. One of the other bloggers on this book tour, Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts, suggested listening to the other two on audiobook to get the full flavor of the Botswanian lingo. I’m going to try to do that.

As you have already figured out by now, I highly recommend this book. I already knew that Louise Penny writes well, but now I know she also is a good reader.

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 About the authors:

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip.

Both are retired professors who have worked in academia and business. Sears is a mathematician, specializing in geological remote sensing. Trollip is an educational psychologist, specializing in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and a pilot. They were both born in South Africa.

They have been on a number of flying safaris to Botswana and Zimbabwe, where it was always exciting to buzz a dirt airstrip to shoo the elephants off. They have had many adventures on these trips including tracking lions at night, fighting bush fires on the Savuti plains in northern Botswana, being charged by an elephant, and having their plane’s door pop open over the Kalahari, scattering navigation maps over the desert.. These trips have fed their love both for the bush, and for Botswana.

It was on one of these trips that the idea surfaced for a novel set in Botswana.

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Thank to TLC Book Tours for asking me to participate in this book tour. To read all the book reviews of the tour participants, visit these blogs:

Tuesday, September 6th: Jen’s Book Thoughts

Wednesday, September 7th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, September 8th: Helen’s Book Blog

Monday, September 12th: Book Dilettante

Tuesday, September 13th: Life In Review

Wednesday, September 21st: Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms

Thursday, September 22nd: Wordsmithonia 

Wednesday, September 28th: Life in the Thumb

Thursday, October 6th: Nose in a Book

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9 Responses to Book Review: Death of the Mantis

  1. Mystica says:

    A new one for me. Thanks for the review.

  2. Annie says:

    Your post is very interesting, Margot and I’d like to read this book !

  3. I also have selected books because of some other author’s referral (although Stephen King has SO MANY referrals I have to doubt he has read them all!)

  4. The book is obviously well written since you didn’t realize it was part of a series as you read it. It sounds really good to me.

  5. I’m thrilled that this book lived up to your very high expectations – what a treat!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  6. Staci says:

    I skimmed your review because I haven’t read mine yet! But by the sounds of it I’m in for a real treat!

  7. kaye says:

    sounds good. MY TBR from your blog is so long that next year I’m creating my own challenge titled “reading recommends by Margot” 🙂

  8. I love (and second) what your commenter Kaye above says!! I’m off to Amazon now to look for these books, at least one of them at a time. Louise Penney is enough recommendation for me too. (I just finished her latest and she better be working on another one ;>)

  9. Robert Luongo says:

    I have two books by these authors. A Carrion Death and Death of the Mantis. Both books are good, but I thought Death of the Mantis was better. It seems their writing got better with experience. Detective Kubu is a lovable character who likes to eat and drink. He enjoys people and you can’t help but feel like you would like to have him as a friend.

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